China Welcomes South Korea's Push for Talks With North Amid Nuclear Crisis


China Welcomes South Korea's Push for Talks With North Amid Nuclear Crisis

South Korea has proposed holding military talks with the North in an effort to deescalate tensions after Pyongyang's latest long-range missile test.

"We request military talks with the North on July 21 at Tongilgak to stop all hostile activities that raise military tension at the military demarcation line", South Korea's Vice Defence Minister Suh Choo-suk said at a press briefing.

If the government meeting goes ahead, it will mark the first official inter-Korea talks since December 2015. South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye demanded that Pyongyang seriously commit to changing its nuclear program before talks between the countries would be held.

Chances for talks on family reunions are slimmer as North Korea has already made it clear that it won't agree to a fresh reunion program unless Seoul returns some of the North Korean defectors living in the South who it says were abducted by South Korean agents.

Millions of family members were separated by the conflict that sealed the division of the two countries. All civilian communication is banned across the MDL. Numerous surviving members of divided families are over 80 years old.

South Korea's new government is making overtures to the North, proposing military talks at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two rivals.

"[We] hope the DPRK Red Cross Society will respond to our suggestion through the liaison office of the South and North Korean Red Cross in Panmunjom", Kim said.

After the ICBM launch, Kim said he would never negotiate over his weapons programs as long as USA hostility and nuclear threats persist. In all, the North has conducted five nuclear tests and numerous missile tests.

China has resisted U.S. calls for tougher sanctions, which it fears could destabilize Kim's regime.

In the proposal for talks, South Korea did not elaborate on the meaning of hostile military activities, which varies between the two Koreas.

"It would at least help let off some steam out of the current crisis, although the North would still maintain that it would not give up its weapons programmes", he said.

Military and government hotlines should also be restored across the border, Cho added.

But experts said the resumption of the event may take a bumpy road since the communist state continued in the commentary to demand South Korea repatriate 12 female North Koreans who worked at a Pyongyang-run restaurant in China and defected to Seoul en masse past year.

The military has also occasionally launched giant balloons containing anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border. The North recently voiced suspicion over Moon's North Korea policy, and some conservatives in South Korea worry that his overture might weaken global pressure on North Korea.



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